AJ Finn has had the dream run with his first book The Woman in the Window. He has the likes of Stephen King emailing him out of the blue declaring himself a fan and he recently received a cool million dollars for the film rights.
Not bad work for your first novel, a thriller which draws heavily on inspiration from classic movies. AJ Finn, aka Daniel Mallory, spoke to Ryan Tubridy about the book’s success and gave him the elevator pitch.
"The Woman in the Window is Rear Window for the 21st century in which our narrator, an agoraphobic, former child psychologist, has withdrawn from the world and one night she believes she witnesses a crime in a house across the way - but did she really, or has she imagined it?"
AJ said he got the idea when watching Rear Window in his New York apartment and found himself tempted to spy on his neighbour when a light went on her house. "Voyeurism dies hard," he joked.
When writing, AJ drew on his own experiences of being diagnosed with depression and later with bipolar 2 disorder, "wherein the lows are lower and the highs alas are not so manic or dizzying," he explains.
"Agoraphobia refers to individuals who are unable to leave the house because they’re so afraid of the world outdoors. There were days, or weeks or even months at a stretch during my 20s and 30s when I could not prise myself from bed, let alone venture outside. I decided to explore those issues in this novel, and I should add, Ryan, that this is not a treatise on depression, it is a thriller - but one of the things I like so much about thrillers is that often you can enjoy the superficial twists and turns, but scratch the surface and you’re exposed to something deeper."
Something that was important to AJ was to give what he deemed an accurate and fair portrayal of his female protagonist.
"So often, Ryan, in this genre, the female characters, even those in starring roles, are wet. They fret about men, they whinge about men, they rely upon men and in my experience, this isn’t very realistic. Most women I know are more than a match for the men in their lives, so I’m not sure why novelists, often female novelists, insist on representing them otherwise. That’s also why I was quite keen to use the word ‘woman’ in the title, not a girl. If you are a female and 18 years of age or older, you are legally and in most cases biologically, a woman… Can you imagine if we referred to grown men as boys, it’s creepy!"